Starting in Real Estate

In class recently, someone asked me how I started my own company in Real Estate as if my ideas would be helpful. I can tell you what I did but with no guarantees.

I was Director of Property Management for the Forest E. Olson Co. in Van Nuys, when I decided to change to selling Apartment Houses in Canoga Park. I got lucky and closed two the first month. When the check arrived, I took a vacation and when I came back I started Duane Gomer, Inc.

It was slow. Yes, it was slow. When the light at the end of the tunnel didn’t materialize, I took a part-time shift doing tax returns for real estate clients. Part-time in that business means 14 Hour Days.

When the tax season ended, the light appeared, and I have been on my own ever since. What did I do? First, I had to decide what I could not do. I would not be any good going door-to-door trying to get listings; I would hope that no one was home when I knocked. No boiler room phone calling, etc.

My approach: I started writing a weekly column on Investment Real Estate in the Los Angeles Daily News in the Green Sheet as San Fernando Valley Boomers remember. I started teaching adult education classes regularly at UCLA. Then, since I wanted to sell or manage Apartment Houses, I figured out that those owners would probably be at Local Apartment Associations so I became a member of several and started giving keynote speeches to their conventions.

Luckily, at UCLA I met an Attorney who was also an instructor, and he got me appointed as a Court Appointed Receiver to manage Foreclosure Properties during the Foreclosure period. Great job and I was able to hustle other Legal Departments of suffering lenders. From UCLA contacts I was able to Syndicate apartment properties for small investment groups. At the time I was doing this, you were limited to 10 investors and limited to showing 25 prospects.

This lasted for over 15 years, and then I decided that I enjoyed the teaching more than tenants. Don’t they say, “Find something you enjoy doing, and find a way to get paid for doing it.”

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